Michigan is one of 20 states that offer no help or compensation to wrongfully convicted people — not even a night in a motel. In Michigan, 55 people have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated since the mid-1980s, and about 1,600 nationwide, according to the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic. In 1985, David Gavitt´s house in Ionia caught fire. His wife and two children died and he was seriously injured. Gavitt was convicted of arson and murder, even though the house was not insured, and prosecutors did not find a motive. In 2012, the case was re-opened by the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, the only clinic in the state that handles non-DNA cases. Modern fire investigators, working with the Ionia County Prosecutor´s Office, found that the signs of arson used to convict Gavitt in 1985 have been discredited since then. A new investigation found no evidence of gasoline or accelerant. Gavitt was released June 26, 2012, after serving 27 years in prison for a crime he didn´t commit.........On May 7, Gavitt, Davis and four other wrongfully convicted people gathered at the State Capitol for a hearing on the compensation bill. One of the six was Julie Baumer, convicted of first-degree child abuse and thrown into prison for more than four years until her conviction was overturned in 2009. Scans of the baby´s brain revealed that a stroke, not shaking, was the cause of death.........The latest success for Cooley´s Innocence Project is a classic tug of war between DNA testing and junk science. On May 22, after hundreds of hours of work by the Cooley Innocence Project team, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeals must consider a request by a man convicted in 1989 of murder, Gilbert Lee Poole Jr., for DNA testing in the Oakland County Circuit Court. Poole has been in prison 26 years. The Court of Appeals or dered the DNA testing July 6. A controversial Michigan forensic dentist, Allan Warnick, testified that Poole´s bite marks were on the victim.
"[Warnick] has been associated with three or four cases in Michigan where he´s been 100 percent someone´s teeth marks are on a victim´s body," Mitchell-Chicon said. "There´s no scientific support for that whatsoever, and yet Gilbert Poole is still in prison because that was used against him." But the evidence in the Poole case is not in the best condition. The case hangs, literally, on a thread. "The blood on the bloody stones and grass was lifted with a piece of thread and blood typed," Mitchell-Cichon said. Blood typing uses up a lot of evidence. "Hopefully we have the threads and hopefully we have some visible blood on there." Cooley´s Innocence Project team didn´t take much time to celebrate the recent progress in the Poole case. DNA testing "gets better as we speak," Mitchell-Cichon said, but it´s not a magic bullet. "I´d love to be put out of business," she said."